Loei province and the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) on Wednesday dusted off a cable car project for a mountaintop in Phu Kradueng National Park.
The first public hearing was organised after the project was halted for review in 2018. The event was attended by 300 participants both onsite and online.
Thammanoon Pakthoop, manager of Dasta office Area 5, said as requested by Loei province, Dasta had a budget for Burapha University and Khon Kaen University to review the feasibility study of the project.
The controversial cable car project in the national park was initiated in 1982 with Kasetsart University being hired to conduct a feasibility study and an environmental impact assessment (EIA). However, the project was opposed by some conservation groups. Further studies were conducted in the decades that followed while opinions on the project were mixed, with some supporting and others opposing.
In 2012, Loei wanted the project to go ahead and in 2014 state-run Dasta was assigned to conduct a feasibility study and public hearings. The study, presented to the cabinet in 2016, found that the project would not affect the environment and would benefit locals.
The cabinet approved the report in principle but ordered the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to carefully consider the project. The ministry ordered Loei province to submit an EIA to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) of the ministry but it was later shelved.
Dasta director Athikun Kongmee said Dasta has allocated a budget to support relevant agencies to proceed with a plan to carry out and submit the EIA again. "The cable car will be an alternative service for tourists. It will also open an opportunity for the elderly to be able to visit Phu Kradueng," he said.
Provincial governor Chaithawat Niemsiri urged relevant agencies to help facilitate the project.
Phu Kradueng National Park chief, Adisorn Hemthanon, said the project has both advantages and disadvantages. He said further study is needed.